Math ImageryThe connection between mathematics and art goes back thousands of years. Mathematics has been used in the design of Gothic cathedrals, Rose windows, oriental rugs, mosaics and tilings. Geometric forms were fundamental to the cubists and many abstract expressionists, and award-winning sculptors have used topology as the basis for their pieces. Dutch artist M.C. Escher represented infinity, Möbius bands, tessellations, deformations, reflections, Platonic solids, spirals, symmetry, and the hyperbolic plane in his works.

Mathematicians and artists continue to create stunning works in all media and to explore the visualization of mathematics--origami, computer-generated landscapes, tesselations, fractals, anamorphic art, and more.



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spikesphere1.jpg
Spiked Rhombic EnneacontahedronThis structure was conceived by taking a 90-sided polyhedron, whose faces are made from two types of rhombi, and placing a pyramid on each face. The construction uses 180 small squares of paper, all folded and interlocked together without glue. See more models on the Origami Gallery.

--- Thomas Hull. Photograph by Nancy Rose Marshall.
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"Kissing in Motion""Kissing in Motion" shows the motion of the "shadows" of kissing spheres in a deformation pointed out by J.H. Conway and N.J.A. Sloane, following an observation of H.S.M. Coxeter. The sequence is left-right, right-left, left-right (sometimes called boustrophedon). The image accompanies "Kissing Numbers, Sphere Packings, and Some Unexpected Proofs," by Florian Pfender and G√ľnter M. Ziegler (Notices of the American Mathematical Society, September 2004, p. 873).

--- Bill Casselman
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Hilbert's Square-Filling Curve"Hilbert's Square-Filling Curve" by The
3DXM Consortium

In 1890 David Hilbert published a construction of a continuous curve whose image completely fills a square, which was a significant contribution to the understanding of continuity. Although it might be considered to be a pathological example, today, Hilbert's curve has become well-known for a very different reason---every computer science student learns about it because the algorithm has proved useful in image compression. See more fractal curves on the 3D-XplorMath Gallery.

--- adapted from "About Hilbert's Square Filling Curve" by Hermann Karcher
MandelbrotSet.jpg
Mandelbrot SetA striking aspect of this image is its self-similarity: Parts of the set look very similar to larger parts of the set, or to the entire set itself. The boundary of the Mandelbrot Set is an example of a fractal, a name derived from the fact that the dimensions of such sets need not be integers like two or three, but can be fractions like 4/3. See more at the 3D-XplorMath Fractal Gallery.

--- Richard Palais (Univ. of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA)
Breather.jpg
Parametric Breather"Parametric Breather," by The 3DXM Consortium.

This striking object is an example of a surface in 3-space whose intrinsic geometry is the hyperbolic geometry of Bolyai and Lobachevsky. Such surfaces are in one-to-one correspondence with the solutions of a certain non-linear wave-equation (the so-called Sine-Gordon Equation, or SGE) that also arises in high-energy physics. SGE is an equation of soliton type and the Breather surface corresponds to a time-periodic 2-soliton solution. See more pseudospherical surfaces on the 3D-XplorMath Gallery.

--- Richard Palais (Univ. of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA)
symmetry3.jpg
symmetry3.jpg"Symmetry Energy Image III," by Rob Scharein (Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics, Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada)

This example illustrates the SE rendering mode in KnotPlot, which visualizes the symmetric energy distribution. KnotPlot is a program to visualize and manipulate mathematical knots in three and four dimensions, and the website includes a wealth of resources and pictures. This picture is a direct screen capture from KnotPlot, rendered entirely in OpenGL, an environment for portable, interactive graphics applications.

--- Rob Scharein
symmetry2.jpg
symmetry2.jpg"Symmetry Energy Image II," by Rob Scharein (Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics, Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada)

This example illustrates the SE rendering mode in KnotPlot, which visualizes the symmetric energy distribution. KnotPlot is a program to visualize and manipulate mathematical knots in three and four dimensions, and the website includes a wealth of resources and pictures. This picture is a direct screen capture from KnotPlot, rendered entirely in OpenGL, an environment for portable, interactive graphics applications.

--- Rob Scharein
parastar8-williams.jpg
"ParaStar8," by Mary Candace Williams. Quilt copyright 2003 Mary Candace Williams; photograph by Robert Fathauer.This quilt is is the third in a series of quilts based on the approximation of a parabola by drawing a series of straight lines. There were eight divisions of the orginal block which was then mapped onto a rhombus and repeated eight times for the complete quilt. The star part of the design was enhanced by the use of shades of color.

--- Mary Candace Williams
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"Frabjous," by George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)This is an 11-inch diameter sculpture made of laser-cut wood (aspen). It is assembled from thirty identical pieces. Each is an elongated S-shaped form, with two openings. The aspen is quite light in color but the laser-cut edges are a rich contrasting brown. The openings add nicely to the whirling effect. The appearance is very different as one moves around it. This is an image of how it appears looking straight down one of the vortices. The word "frabjous" comes, of course, from "The Jabberwocky" of Lewis Carroll. "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" --- George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)
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"72 Pencils," by George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)"72 Pencils" is a geometric construction of 72 pencils, assembled into a work of art. The form is an arrangement of four intersecting hexagonal tubes that penetrate each other in a fascinating three-dimensional lattice. For some viewers, part of the interest lies in the form of the interior. The four hexagonal tubes are hollow, so the sculpture as a whole is hollow. But, what shape is its cavity? What would someone on the inside see? To the mathematician, the answer is "the rhombic dodecahedron," a geometric solid bounded by twelve rhombuses. See two other views, showing how it looks along various axes of symmetry, at www.georgehart.comwww.georgehart.com. --- George W. Hart (www.georgehart.com)
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"Tumbling Escher," by Mary Candace Williams. Quilt copyright 2006 By Mary Candace Williams; photograph by Annette Emerson.If you look at the quilt at a perpendicular angle you have a traditional diamond tessellation known as Tumbling Block. From the side, however, it rises up and back into the quilt; thus a nod to Escher's "Reptiles" in which the drawn lizard rises up and out and back into the drawing board. --- Mary Candace Williams

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"Symmetry Mobius," by Mary Candace Williams; photograph by Annette Emerson.In order to keep the mobius as a band, I used only the eleven symmetries that are not based on a hexagon. The fabric was chosen for its mathematical content. -- Mary Candace Williams
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"Fiddler Crab, opus 446," by Robert J. Lang. Medium: One uncut square of Origamido paper, composed and folded in 2004, 4". Image courtesy of Robert J. Lang. Photograph by Robert J. Lang.The intersections between origami, mathematics, and science occur at many levels and include many fields of the latter. Origami, like music, also permits both composition and performance as expressions of the art. Over the past 40 years, I have developed nearly 600 original origami compositions. About a quarter of these have been published with folding instructions, which, in origami, serve the same purpose that a musical score does: it provides a guide to the performer (in origami, the folder) while allowing the performer to express his or her own personality through interpretation and variation.

I'm especially pleased with this model, which involves a combination of symmetry with one distinctly non-symmetric element. The base is quite irregular, but its asymmetry is mostly concealed. The crease pattern is here.

--- Robert J. Lang
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Mountains in SpringComputers make it possible for me to "see" the beauty of mathematics. The artworks in the gallery of "Mathscapes" were created using a variety of mathematical formulas. The clouds and plant life are generated using fractal methods. The mountains are created using trigonometric sums with randomly generated coefficients; then, using 3-D transformation, they are projected onto the computer screen. Value and color are functions of the dot product of the normal to the surface with a specified light vector.

--- Anne M. Burns
fiddler_crab_cp.jpg
"Fiddler Crab, opus 446" crease pattern, by Robert J. Lang. Copyright Robert J. Lang (www.langorigami.com).Crease patterns (CPs) provide a one-step connection from the unfolded square to the folded form, compressing hundreds of creases, and sometimes hours of folding, into a single diagram! A CP can sometimes be more illuminating than a detailed folding sequence, conveying not just "how to fold," but also how the figure was originally designed. Mathematical and geometric CPs usually show all the creases, but representational origami rarely shows every crease in the finished form, as it would make the crease pattern impossibly busy. Instead, the crease pattern gives the creases needed to fold the "base," that is, a geometric shape that has the right number and arrangements of flaps. It is still left up to the folder to add thinning and shaping folds. See the final "Fiddler Crab" origami work in this album.
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American Mathematical Society